The European Commission aims to save and preserve life, prevent and alleviate human suffering and safeguard the integrity and dignity of populations affected by natural disasters and man-made crises. EU assistance, amounting to one of the world's largest, is enshrined in the Treaty of Lisbon and supported by EU citizens an as expression of European solidarity with any person or people in need.
With its headquarters in Brussels and a global network of field offices, the Commission's European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations department ensures rapid and effective delivery of EU relief assistance through its two main instruments: civil protection and humanitarian aid. By bringing the two together under one roof in 2010, the Commission has built up a more robust and effective European mechanism for disaster response both inside and outside the EU.
Since November 2014, the department operates under the mandate of Christos Stylianides, EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management.
Based on international humanitarian principles and as set out in the European Consensus on Humanitarian Aid, the EU provides needs-based humanitarian assistance to the people hit by man-made and natural disasters with particular attention to the most vulnerable victims. Aid is channelled impartially to the affected populations, regardless of their race, ethnic group, religion, gender, age, nationality or political affiliation.
The European Commission's Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO) provides relief in all major crisis zones around the world including Syria, South Sudan, Yemen and Ukraine. It also contributes to tackling the refugee crisis in Europe, also by mobilising EU civil protection channels.
The humanitarian assistance funded by the EU is delivered in partnership with UN agencies, international organisations and NGOs. EU humanitarian aid covers intervention areas such as: food and nutrition, shelter, health care, water and sanitation and education in emergencies. A large network of Commission's humanitarian experts in over 40 countries worldwide enables close monitoring of crisis situations and relief operations.
The funding for humanitarian aid operations is intended for countries outside of the EU. The European Commission can also fund emergency support operations to respond to disasters of exceptional scale within the European Union.